Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: March 15, 2011

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He avoided Italian police for a decade on the run, but couldn’t resist his wife’s lasagna. Police say Giancarlo Sabatini went into hiding in 2000, shortly after being given a 3-year, 8-month prison sentence in a cocaine trafficking case. Acting on a tip, police staked out the homes of Sabatini’s wife and daughter Tuesday in Rocca Priora, a town near Rome. When they spied the daughter leaving her mother’s house and furtively dashing toward her home bearing a tray of lasagna, police, suspecting a secret guest, burst in and arrested Sabatini. ***MARLAR: Sabatini is suing the police department for “cruel and unusual punishment” though because they wouldn’t allow him to finish his lasagna.

Scientists have recently discovered that many kinds of bacteria do not operate independently. Instead, they seem to communicate with each other and only go to work – causing an infection, for example — when they decide that they have reached the critical mass they need to get the job done.  ***MARLAR: Apparently they studied under the U.S. Congress.

A Swedish bank robber forgot to cover his tracks and left three bottles of urine behind after hiding inside a bank vault in Copenhagen for three days. The 27-year-old man and his accomplice used the bottles to relieve themselves after sneaking into the vault on a Friday in May and remaining there until the bank opened again the following Monday.  While inside, the robbers emptied 140 safety deposit boxes of at least $500,000 in cash and jewelry. But Prosecutor Frederik Larsen said they forgot to take the urine when they left “so we were able to get their DNA samples from the bottles.”  ***MARLAR: Ironically, if I had to go three days without using a restroom, I’d probably pay half-a-million bucks for relief.

NASA’s planet-hunting telescope is finding whole new worlds of possibilities in the search for alien life. An early report from a cosmic census indicates that relatively small planets and stable multi-planet systems are far more plentiful than previous searches showed.  NASA’s newly released data from its Kepler telescope found more than 1,000 possible new planets outside our solar system – more than doubling the count of what astronomers call exoplanets.  ***MARLAR: And, sadly, they’ve yet to find any signs of intelligent life in our own solar system. (Neither have they found any orange dogs on the planet Pluto.)

Apparently we’re looking for just about any excuse we can find to say that being fat isn’t our own fault.  Now it’s Mom’s fault because she had a job.  Childhood obesity has been steadily rising the past 30 years, and this new study from American University in Washington, D.C. has found that a child’s weight may depend on how much their mothers were away at work while growing up. The research team studied body mass index (BMI) data &  found that the total number of years that mothers were employed away from home had a cumulative influence on their children’s rising BMI. Over time, a higher than average BMI can lead to obesity in adulthood.  ***MARLAR: Seriously?  So I’m a big fat slob because my mother decided to get a job to provide for the family?  If she hadn’t, what then?  We’d have less food, and again it’d be Mom’s fault that I’m malnourished.  Sorry, Mom – apparently you’re just evil.


The battery of the future could be made from paper. You’ll be able to cut it into pieces, crunch it into a ball, roll it up into a tube or any other shape required to power the ever growing array of electronic devices that are hitting the market at light speed. The new battery consists of paper that’s been infused with an electrolyte substance and microscopic carbon nanotubles that form electrodes. Current flows from one side of the paper to the other. Even more amazing, the paper battery also functions as a capacitor, a device that stores electricity, so you’ll be able to charge it, wad it up and stick it in your pocket and stuff it into your cell phone whenever and wherever you need. ***MARLAR: And spit-wads would suddenly become deadly electro-magnetic weapons.

One Swedish retiree is chopping his gasoline bills — with wood. Tore Blomqvist has converted his car to run on wood gas. The 78-year-old former mechanic says that’s what they did during the gas shortages of World War II. Wood is partially burned in a contraption on the back of his car. The resulting combustible gas is fed into the engine instead of gasoline. He says a recent 300-mile drive cost him just 17 bucks for four bags of firewood, instead of nearly $120 for gasoline.  ***MARLAR: So how much wood would a wood car burn if a wood car would burn wood?

Pint-sized patrolman Landon Wilburn is on the beat. The 11-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, kid is tired of speeders in his neighborhood. So, he’s taking aim at the lead-foot drivers with his radar gun. Landon wears a reflective vest and a bicycle helmet. He points his Hot Wheels speed gun at cars as they whiz by and records just how fast they’re going. One neighbor tells The Courier-Journal some of the speeders slam on their brakes when they see the kid cop with the toy speed gun. City officials say they’ll consider the neighborhood for speed bumps.  ***MARLAR: The downside is getting a speeding ticket covered in peanut butter and jelly fingerprints.

Can ice cream be considered a health food?  Well, not quite – but if you’re trying to lose weight, but have uncontrollable urges to snack on sinful foods, ice cream is your best bet, say researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado. Ice cream is loaded with calcium, an important mineral that bumps fat out of cells and into your bloodstream, where it burns off. Ice cream seems to work best on belly fat, which has been linked to metabolic syndrome, a complex host of conditions that can lead to heart disease.  ***MARLAR: For health reasons, after the show I’m heading to Dairy Queen for a Heath Bar Blizzard.

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